This weekend, Canada's media world was rocked by news that Jian Ghomeshi, co-creator and host of CBC's popular radio show Q, had been fired by the broadcast network due to "personal issues." Those "personal issues" turned out to be allegations of a long record of creepiness culminating, in some cases, in sexual abuse.
According to The Star's Kevin Donovan, CBC announced on Friday that Ghomeshi was taking time off to deal with "personal issues." After what Donovan says was a weekend of closed door meetings, on Sunday, the network doubled down, announcing that actually, Ghomeshi was fired, because whatever "personal issues" needed to be dealt with were severe enough that the company no longer wanted anything to do with him.
Ghomeshi countered by hiring a crisis management firm and a lawyer, and announcing that he's filing a $50 million suit against his employer.
And then the other shoe dropped.
Donovan's piece, which went live last night, detailed what the allegations were. They included accounts from three separate "educated and employed" women (one of many odd moments in his report), each of whom had been interviewed "several" times and were former fans of the CBC host, who said Ghomeshi subjected them to sexual violence without their consent. The Star also talked to a CBC employee who said that Ghomeshi once grabbed her butt and whispered in her ear that he wanted to "hatefuck" her.
Each woman said she remembers Ghomeshi being initially sweet and flattering, then later suggesting or hinting at violent sex acts. When they failed to respond or expressed displeasure, they recalled Ghomeshi dismissing his remarks as "just fantasies," reassuring them he wouldn't ask them to do anything they weren't comfortable with. The women deny that "safe words" were employed in the relationship.
In one woman's case, she visited Ghomeshi at his Toronto home and alleges as soon as she walked into his house he suddenly struck her hard with his open hand, then continued to hit her and choked her. The woman alleges Ghomeshi repeatedly beat her about the head and choked her.
None of the women wanted their identities on the record, and none of them went to the police, citing reasons that are undoubtedly familiar with anyone who has been abused by a public figure: They worried nobody would believe them. They didn't want their own safety threatened by people who believed that consenting to mild BDSM meant that they consented to all uses of violence in the context of sex. They didn't want their inbox flooded by hatemail.
Their reticence is certainly understandable. Last year, when Carla Ciccone wrote an It Happened to Me post on XOJane about an anonymous Canadian radio personality who acted like a creep on their date, commenters quickly pointed to Ghomeshi. And shortly thereafter, she was swarmed by Ghomeshi's supporters; they accused her of being a liar, a drama queen, a whiner. The women interviewed by The Star have accused him of much worse than being a basic run-of-the-mill aging indie rock tool.
Ghomeshi himself has a checkered history with consent. Just this spring, Ghomeshi hosted a "debate" between professor Lise Gotell and professional rape-denier Heather Macdonald on the very existence of "rape culture." During the show, Macdonald claimed that not only did "rape culture" not exist, but that women were to blame for assaults that occurred when they were drinking. She later suggested that women should boycott sex entirely until men start wooing them with "flowers, suits, and chivalry." Ghomeshi barely intervened. The backlash was immediate.
Ghomeshi doesn't exactly have a squeaky-clean reputation with the women of Toronto, either.
But the most entertaining bit of this bummer of a saga comes from Ghomeshi himself. In an attempt to get out ahead of the story, he did a little bit of his own crisis intervention in the form of a 1,600-word Facebook soliloquy that I'm sure he thought would exonerate him. In it, he insists the scandal is the work of a veritable Lincoln Conspiracy of other women he'd loved and left. He was into kinky BDSM stuff (which he oddly described as "enticing"), he claimed, he'd been going through a hard time, and "sexual preferences are a human right."
While the Star piece didn't prove that Jian Ghomeshi is a serial sexual abuser, his self-pitying attempt at defending himself indicates that he is definitely guilty of being a douchebag.
Here are the choicest excerpts:
I've been fired from the CBC because of the risk of my private sex life being made public as a result of a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer.
A jilted freelance writer. From the cutting room floor of the world's worst insult comic.
About two years ago I started seeing a woman in her late 20s. Our relationship was affectionate, casual and passionate. We saw each other on and off over the period of a year and began engaging in adventurous forms of sex that included role-play, dominance and submission. We discussed our interests at length before engaging in rough sex (forms of BDSM). We talked about using safe words and regularly checked in with each other about our comfort levels. She encouraged our role-play and often was the initiator. We joked about our relations being like a mild form of Fifty Shades of Grey or a story from Lynn Coady's Giller-Prize winning book last year. I don't wish to get into any more detail because it is truly not anyone's business what two consenting adults do. I have never discussed my private life before. Sexual preferences are a human right.
This section is particularly glorious, as is manages to combine humblebragging (I date women who are in their twenties), implying that the woman was the one who wanted rough sex in the first place, literary name-dropping ("Lynn Coady's Giller-Prize winning book last year"), and reframing his penis as a brave defender of human rights. Truly impressive.
After detailing more about the conspiracy behind his eventual firing by the CBC, Ghomeshi writes,
Still, the spectre of mud being flung onto the Internet where online outrage can demonize someone before facts can refute false allegations has been what I've had to live with.
Helluva sentence. Helluva sentence.
Ghomeshi's predictable creep act wasn't transparent to everybody, as evidenced by Billboard's unfortunate framing of the scandal, clearly written before the Star piece was published.
He's also losing gigs above and beyond the Q host's chair. The Giller Prize announced yesterday that Ghomeshi will no longer be hosting their award show on November 10, and unless he wins his $50 million lawsuit against CBC, it's unclear how he'll make money. Luckily, he's still got at least one ally he can count on. Amanda Palmer.
Image via Getty.